Avoiding Star Trek Walk-on Guest Syndrome (aka The "Petersen" Syndrome), when Working with Recruiters
You remember it: whenever Captain Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard took an unknown crew member on the Away Team, that person died pretty soon after stepping foot out of the transporter. I don’t recall anyone ever saying “Gee, it’s too bad Petersen just got eaten by that Rock Monster” either.
He served his purpose to heighten suspense, got his SAG card, and he was outta’ there.
Sometimes, not all but sometimes, working with a contingent recruiter may be much the same, with you sadly, playing the all too short-lived role of Petersen.
Before every recruiter on the web writes me mad-mail, let me preface by saying I have been a recruiter in the Permanent Placement Industry (also in the Temporary Placement industry, but that’s a story for another day). I am now in the Outplacement business. Different thing but there are similarities.
Let’s go to Wikipedia for the definitions:
Executive search (informally headhunting) is the process of recruiting individuals to fill executive positions in organizations. Executive search may be performed by an organization's board of directors, by executives in the organization, or by an outside executive search organization.
The executive search profession has two distinct fields, retained executive search and contingency search. Retained search firms are paid a retainer fee regardless of whether a successful placement is made. Contingency firms are paid only if a candidate is found, and generally, the candidate must stay in the position for X weeks or months for payment to be made and the contract fulfilled.
OUTplacement is a term used to describe the efforts made by a Company Fee-paid downsizing firm to help the redundant employees through the career transition process, and help them re-orientate to the job market. An Outplacement firm may refer a candidate to retained executive search or contingency search firm to assist in the transition process.
In the current employment market, there is a glut of talent in the available pool – a buyer’s market as it were, at a time when there’s not a lot of buying going on. If you’re searching for a new position, there’s a huge, talented competition pool out there with you.
For a Contingency Executive Search professional, it is critical that they respond quickly to an organization’s request for a specific talent-set in a potential employee. The Executive Search Professional may have 3 or 4 candidates basically suited to fill the open position; however, one of those is the favorite, the perfect fit. The search professional must send a handful of people to the interviewing company to give them options, but they may be selling one specific candidate a bit more aggressively than the others.
In other words, one of those candidates is Spock. The others are Petersen 1, Petersen 2, and so on.
It’s up to you, the Job Seeker, to figure out which you are, and to effectively manage the process in partnership with the search professional, not at the bidding of.
A great search professional is your partner in this process. They can be an invaluable asset. A really great one will work with you throughout your career if you have demonstrated in-turn that you are a prepared, articulate, employable professional.
An Executive client of ours recently mentioned to me, that a third-party recruiter he was working with kept sending him to interviews that didn’t seem to fit for him. I asked him why he kept accepting interviews from this particular Placement representative. He said “Well, I don’t want to make them angry, so I figure I’d better go.”
You can’t have that folks. This is not a time to be wasting time.
Shop around, network, talk to others in your field that have a relationship with a Search Professional or firm and request an introduction. Be very prepared for the subsequent telephone or face-to-face interview.
Find a search professional that thinks you’re Spock. Anything else would be illogical.
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